Annapurna Circuit Day 1: Chamje to Dharapani
Day 1 March 23, 2018: Chamje (1430m) to Dharapani (1860m), distance: 9.25 miles, duration: 5h 30m, elevation gain: 430m, ascended: 2811 feet, descended: 1309 feet, food: $31.40, lodging: $2.50 at Crystal Hotel
We began our trek in Chamje at 8:00 in the morning on March 23. The sun was shining and the air was cool, with the temperature around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Within 10 minutes, we were crossing the first of many suspension bridges over the rushing mineral waters of the Marsyangdi River. We were giddy -- our feet were stepping forward through the Himalayas!! Smiles and excitement powered us through the steep, rocky climb towards Tal, always within earshot of the river’s roar through the canyon.
At the crest of an ancient landslide that once blocked the raging river like a dam, we passed through the entrance gate into the village of Tal. On the opposite side, the turquoise blue river was peaceful and calm, quietly flowing across a wide valley plain. Horses grazed along its banks. Behind the village, a waterfall tumbled hundreds of feet down the hillside, sunlight gleaming off its spray. Walking past the village prayer wheel, we gave each wheel a spin in the clockwise direction. As the Sanskrit words Om Mani Padme Hum twirled around, we shed accumulated bad karma and gained good karma by acknowledging compassion for all human beings. You felt the love, right? ;-)
It was too early for lunch, so we continued onward and upward towards Dharapani, traversing the grassy trails through thin bamboo and terraced sugar cane fields. Every so often, we would exchange a “namaste” greeting with the local people sharing the trail. We arrived in Dharapani in the late afternoon, settling on the Crystal Hotel for the night’s lodging. We had our first of many bottomless dal bhat meals, which includes a generous helping of rice, lentil soup, vegetable curry, boiled greens, radish pickle, and a crispy tortilla called a papad, all refilled to your heart's content. 24-hour dal bhat power indeed!